Heidi Cullinan

Books: Romance | LGBT

Family Man (2017)

Family Man (2017) Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton

After three failed marriages, Vincent "Vinnie" Fierro has started wondering whether his family and religion are why he has denied to himself so adamantly that he might be interested in guys.

Trey Giles is working his way through school, one class at a time, while holding down two jobs to support his mother and grandmother. He's been so busy that he's never had time for a relationship, and has never been interested in hook-ups, but when he finds Vinne looking completely out of place at a gay bar, the two flirt and develop a friendship that seems odd–even to them.

I bought this book on a whim, because it was on sale and had been mentioned on SBTB as a really good and complex story. I read it because I started five books and couldn't get more than a page in before moving on, and this grabbed my attention, even though I generally have no interest in straight-up modern romances.

I'm glad that I decided to read this, because it was wonderful.

Vinne is forty and his very large, very Italian, very Catholic family really wants him to get married and provide more grand kids. But none of his past relationships have worked.

"You can't stay with a brand of shampoo, Vinnie. You have commitment issues that have commitment issues."

Trey's problem is his mother.

My mother's alcoholism was the clichéd elephant in the living room. The weight around our necks that had settled in after my father had died, the silent beast we tiptoed around and pretended not to see.

What was so well done with this story was how Trey struggled his mother's alcoholism.

It's ugly.

It's difficult.

Trey is angry–and justifiably so. He loves his mother, but he is tired of struggling to hold his family together because of his mothers addiction. To be honest, the scenes where Trey deals with his mother are heart-breaking, because there really IS no way to deal with someone who is slowly killing herself and taking Trey and his grandmother down with her.

Disease. My jaw got tight whenever I thought about the word. I hated that they called it that. Like that somehow made it okay to have. Like it made her a victim. I have heart disease. I have diabetes. I have colon cancer. I have depression. I have anxiety.

This part of the story was excellently done, and to be honest, was really the heart of the story.

Vinnie's problem is that his family is very Catholic, so he never was able to consider that he might be attracted to men, and once he considers it, has to deal with the fear that most of his family might ostracize him when they find out.

And being Italian, they're pushy about wanting him to get married and have kids, which makes him feel even more like they might reject him for being homosexual. Luckily, he has one sibling who he knows will stand by him regardless, but it is still a difficult thing to consider–be true to yourself and break with tradition and the possible risk of losing your family's love and support.

I did find the ending (epilogue) a little bit over the top and silly, but that's okay, because everything that went before was fabulously well done.

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press